News outlets, pages that share updates and rumours, pages that review football analytically and critically, meme and troll pages, all of it forms the Facebook community of football fans. It is an integral part of the fan culture where aficionados around the world gather in the comment section and celebrate the wins of their favourite club – that may not even be in their continent.
This bridging platform offers a space to express an array of emotions, banter, inspiration, and occasionally it may carry texts that summon tears in one’s eyes. Now and then, one stumbles upon a few pages that are managed by talented writers whom we call Facebook Admins. They are a bunch of fans who behold a unique point-of-view regarding the game. They are bestowed with the ability to troll, inspire, and ultimately make one fall in love with their words. Their viewpoints are like the road less travelled. Their banter game is strong. Many fans write, but only a few can conjure magic with their words and are able to create an audience for themselves. They have this gifted capability of story-telling and analyzing games.
These Facebook Admins are usually anonymous people hiding behind their specified hashtag that conceals their actual name and identity. Though, it does not matter much. As one primarily follows them for their opinions on the contemporary developments of the game and the club.
“Nolan: A Barcelona Fan” is one such name in the Facebook community. Before establishing his own personal blog in the early part of 2020, he worked with notably Ace Football and many other Facebook community. His personal blog “Nolan: A Barcelona Fan” has a very loyal fanbase. It’s not just a coincidence. It’s his sheer brilliance with words and observations towards the game that attracted thousands of fans to his blog. He not only analyze the game but also embodies a true socio of FC Barcelona. He writes about the values of Mes Que un and represents a true Cule of Catalan. In this interview, we tried to talk about his journey and his blog. We talked about Barcelona and his memories of Barcelona. Let’s dive in
Read More: Offpitch Talks with Facebook Admins- S7
Q. Who is Nolan? Tell us about yourself.
A. I was born in Trivandrum but spent most of my time in Delhi and now back in Trivandrum for my graduation. I am an engineering student in the final year of study. Actually, I am brought up outside of Kerala.
Q. When did you start blogging on Facebook? And why you choose Facebook as a platform?
A. This particular page was started only this year but I've been writing on Facebook since last year. I just need a place to write things that I think while watching football and Facebook helps in getting more responses compared to a blog. Sometimes good responses, most of the times - the usual - idiotic admin stuff. I've noticed that most people don't resort to troll stuff in the comments.
Q. So Nolan you are a Barcelona fan. Could you tell me about your earliest memory of Barca? When did you start watching football?
A. My earliest memory of Barca - as in just watching them - I think 2006 after the World Cup. Ten Sports acquired rights for UCL broadcasting at that time. Football fever was on a rise at that time. I didn't follow every league game and all back then. I started following football regularly only after the 2011 Wembley Champions League Final. Which means I didn't see most of Pep Guardiola's sextuple time and that golden generation of Barcelona. But thankfully we do have the technology. A lot of people analyze games in detail and there is Footballia.net also. We can watch whole games, entire seasons, yet again.
(Footballia.net is a website where full matches are uploaded)
Q. It's a tough one. Pardon my framing of the question. As an institution both Pep Guardiola and Leo Messi have an immense effect on Barcelona. Who do you think had more effect/prominence on Barcelona as an institution?
A. Whose legacy will be more prominent? Who will be remembered more? Messi. But Who had more effect? It was Pep towards the start surely. Rebuilding a team is not easy. It is tough as it comes to get school kids to assemble and play football; let alone grown-up men. He completely changed the way football was played.
Q. Follow up to that question, Is Barcelona really under an institutional crisis or a sporting crisis?
A. It is both I would say. It feels that we haven't been under sporting crisis for the major part of the last 5 years in due to Leo Messi. Institutionally, the way transfers have been handled, the way La Masia has been disjointed from the main team, the pathetic ways of making money including feeding substandard food to kids; are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s not Barcelona. It is downright shameful and a disgrace. Barca has been under both sporting and institutional crisis but the quality of players, especially Messi, covered the gaps in the sporting side
Q. Is the philosophy of Barcelona too rigid? Because they set a bar very high in the Pep era. But is it too rigid? Are they still trying to live up to that legacy?
A. I don't think the philosophy is too rigid. Even Bayern Munich under Hansi Flick plays possessional football. So too does Thomas Tuchel at PSG. One thing which I do not agree with is that possessional football is exclusive to Barcelona, which a lot of people do. It is the fans who are rigid more than anything, their expectations. Everyone wants to see intense final third press, 4-3-3 formation, high defensive line, and sometimes the coach wants to do something else, which he should be allowed to do. We can’t have everything done according to our hopes.
Q. Luiz Enrique's era was a huge success. He redefined somewhat the ways of football at Barcelona. Some believes he deviated from the Barca way. Do you believe that?
A. Yes, Luis Enrique's era was a big success but has to go down mostly to the individual quality and understanding between the front three of the team. Rakitic used to drift out wide but Dani Alves had known enough to balance that in the midfield. I don't necessarily think that it is the system, I think it was more individual. Although what Lucho brought to the team in terms of mental strength has been missing for a very long time.
That 2010-11 team was beyond perfect. Possession, position and individual quality, all in one. Real Sociedad right now have a good system and play good football, but their quality with all due respect isn't in the same wavelength of that legendary Barcelona side. So, unfortunately, people don't notice this Sociedad. They want their fans in. Fortunately, they have David Silva now, another magician. They will hardly feel the absence of Martin Odegaard.
Q. Do you believe in Ronald Koeman? He is new and yet to develop his tactical identity. Is he suited for Barcelona? Or is he just warming the seats up for Xavi or Valdes?
A. One thing I will praise about Ronald Koeman is that he hasn't been shy in handing opportunities to the youngsters. But there are still some baffling decisions. The major one would be Riqui Puig not getting even a single minute.
Is Koeman suited for the team? I think a few games is just too little time to judge. This is how transition periods are supposed to be. Sometimes it doesn't go your way. Sometimes they do. There have been flashes of a good team against Villarreal and Juventus.
Also, I'm not for sacking managers without giving them an ample amount of time. It disturbs the rhythm of the team. I have no idea how Xavi is doing at Qatar, but I do know he is at the richest team in Qatar and those results imply nothing on what he can do here. Being realistic, Xavi needs to take the youth team before the first team.
That game against Juventus in UCL 2020-21 was very good. And if Koeman can do that constantly, then why would we count against him. But the Riqui Puig situation is beyond my understanding.
Q. Let’s proceed to our rapid-fire round.
1. Juan Laporta or Victor Font for the Next president?
Answer: Victor Font Font
2. Should Xavi comeback now or after this season?
Answer: It depends on Koeman's results honestly. But for the sake of answering, if he comes back ii should be after this season.
3. Can Barcelona win la Liga this year?
4. Should Messi stay or leave for the sake of new sporting project at Barca?
Answer: I believe that seniors help a team undergoing transitions. So yes, stay.
5. Most exciting side in Europe right now?
Answer: Tottenham Hotspur
6. El classics Rival player you would like to have in Barca?
Answer: Luka Modric. I've loved Luka always.
7. Predict Champions League winner for 2020-21 season.
Answer: Hard to bet against Bayern. I hope they don't. But I think they will though.
8. Should Messi go to Serie A or EPL?
Answer: EPL: Manchester City
9. Early BDR winner prediction for 2020-21.
Answer: Harry Kane
10. Tell us your dream XI
Answer: Victor Valdes (GK)
Dani Alves – Carles Puyol - Gerard Pique – Ronald Koeman
Xavi – Sergio Busquets – Andres Iniesta
Leo Messi – Laszlo Kubala – Johan Cruyff
PS. It was tough to leave Luis Suarez, Laudrup, Pep Guardiola and also Zubizarretta out.
Q. Thanks Nolan for your time. I wish you all the best for your future.
Answer: Thanks Guys for having me. All the best.